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Clear skies for Space Station tonight

This evening offers one of the summer's best, and most convenient opportunities to see the International Space Station from Baltimore. The ISS will soar northeastward, from New Orleans to Nova Scotia, passing directly over Baltimore shortly after 9:15 p.m.

The forecast looks very promising: mostly clear, dry air, and a nice, balmy evening ideal for stretching out under the stars and watching for meteors (Did you miss the Perseid meteor shower last week? Here's a photo gallery), passing satellites and the $100 billion space station. The station should be easy to see if skies are clear, even in urban lighting. Take the kids. Or the neighbor's kids if you've run out. They're often quicker to spot the moving space station among the stationary stars. No binoculars or other equipment are needed. Here are the specifics:

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The ISS will appear first above the southwestern horizon at about 9:15 p.m. Look for a bright "star" moving briskly toward the northeast. If it has multiple lights, colored lights, or a flashing white strobe, it's an airplane. Keep looking. Look for it near the planet Jupiter, which will be the brightest fixed object low in the southwest after 9 p.m.

By 9:17 p.m., the station will be directly overhead - about 215 miles above Baltimore, nearly as far straight up as North Carolina's Outer Banks are to our south. What you're seeing is sunlight reflected off the station's modules and solar panels. Sometimes the light has a slightly coppery hue, the color of the solar collectors. The whole package is moving at about 17,500 mph, circling the planet once every 90 minutes or so.

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There are three crew members on board - an American, a European and a Russian.

Zipping on toward the northeast, the station will fly past Vega and then Deneb, two of the bright stars of the Summer Triangle. Vega is the bright star just east of the zenith (directly overhead). The ISS will fade away just above the northeast horizon as it moves into the Earth's shadow - nightime for those on board.

For more flyover predictions for your location, visit Heavens-Above.com

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